Major League Baseball (MLB) and its locked out players reached agreement Thursday on a labor agreement that ends the second-longest work stoppage in the game’s history. MLB has locked out the players -out last December and had already canceled the first two weeks of the 2022 season, which was due to start on March 31.
“I’m so thrilled to be able to say that Major League Baseball is back and we’re going to play 162 games,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said, opening a press conference with an apology to fans. “I know the last few months have been difficult. There (was) a lot of uncertainty at a time when there is a lot of uncertainty in the world,” he said.
Team owners voted to ratify the deal hours after the players approved the new five-year labor pact. According to a report on the MLB website, the pact is expected to include increased minimum wages, a new pre-arbitration bonus pool to reward top young players and increased competitive balance tax thresholds.
Spring training camps will open on Sunday and a full 162-game regular season will begin on April 7. The final vote from the sub-executive committee and the 30-player representative was 26-12 in favor of the new collective bargaining agreement, ESPN reported.
‘OLIVE BRANCH’ While the deal paves the way for the return of the American pastime, bitter acrimony persists between the two sides.
The league locked out players in December, a move Players’ Association executive director Tony Clark last week called the “ultimate economic weapon” against athletes. Commissioner Manfred defended the move on Thursday, calling it the “most effective way” to reach a new deal without losing games when a deal was not in place when the previous pact expired. But he acknowledged there was work to be done to repair the league’s relationship with his talents on the pitch.
“One of the things I’m supposed to do is promote a good relationship with our players. I tried to do that. I think I didn’t succeed in that,” he said. He said the league compromised on its proposed 14-team playoffs and made other concessions to MLB players.
“I believe – I hope – the players will see the effort we’ve made to address their concerns in this deal as an olive branch,” Manfred said.
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